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Grab to LTFRB: Hike TNVS units to meet rising passenger demand

Ridesharing company Grab Philippines is asking for a dialogue with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to increase the number of transportation network vehicle services (TNVS) units amid increasing passenger demand.

Grab said the suspension of the PHP2-per-minute travel charge by the LTFRB has caused a shortage in the supply of vehicles leading to longer waiting time or non-allocation of rides.

“Driver numbers continue to drop as uncertainty in maintaining sustainable livelihood increases. With the recent suspension of PHP2-per-minute fare, a lot of drivers and operators fear they won’t be able to provide for their families and car maintenance expenses,” Grab country head Brian Cu said in a statement Wednesday.

The company said that it receives about 600,000 passenger booking requests per day but only 35,000 vehicles are available to serve its riders.

Grab has 24,000 vehicles serving 60 percent to 65 percent of bookings while Uber had 19,000 vehicles and a success rate of 50 percent before the acquisition of its operations.

Of the 19,000 active Uber vehicles, only 11,000 have moved to Grab. Majority of the gap is due to the 6,000 active Uber drivers who could no longer continue driving as they were not part of LTFRB’s audited master list.

As a result, only 53 percent of passengers are able to get a ride on their first booking attempt, but this goes down to as low as 37 percent on average during peak hours.

To address the gap in the supply of TNVS units across the country, Cu said they will need the collaboration of transport regulators and ride-hailing companies.

"With an average of 12 rides a day, this is already an additional 72,000 rides, which can help ease the plight of the riders,” Cu said.

In the meantime, Grab is advising its riders to utilize the GrabShare feature on its app to maximize the use of its available vehicles through sharing rides with other passengers.

It will also review its incentives structure to enable its drivers to efficiently deliver services to the passengers.

For its part, the LTFRB said it is open to a possible review of the supply cap it has imposed on TNVS units as it has approved accreditations for new transportation network companies (TNCs).

“We need to see the churning rates of TNCs -- how many operators were blacklisted and how many drivers are no longer operating. These are the things that are unique to the TNCs. If we will subtract something from the pool, we will replenish,” LTFRB Board Member Aileen Lizada said in a text message to reporters.

“We need to stress that this is a new denomination, everyone is working on the fly. It is still too early to set rigid rules on a technology that is still being tested first by its newness vis-a-vis the owners, drivers, passengers, and competition,” she added.

The LTFRB has imposed a common supply cap of 65,000 TNVS units for TNCs in Metro Manila.

It has also approved the accreditation of Hype, Hirna, Go Lag, Owto, and Micab as new TNCs.

Aerol John Pateña / PNA